Oak Lawn Committee Sees Two Contrasting Projects

Before I begin, I have to give a shout-out to my Chicago brethren who have upped the bar for project location mapping. Usually we’re treated to a line drawing or a Google Maps image with various shaded boxes. The above map was supplied for Ari Rastegar’s project at 1900 McKinney Avenue. We have an earthquake-like epicenter where the project will go and well-labeled, shaded city neighborhoods.

If that wasn’t enough, they placed the building in situ to show its relationship to Klyde Warren and the heights of adjacent buildings and their proposal’s impacts (pretty minimal from this angle).

Dallas developers and architects, take note.

Anyway.

Back in June, I wrote about the rental building Rastegar is planning for 1899 McKinney (across from the defunct Stampede 66 and former home of Glass Lounge). I’d expected them to present to Oak Lawn Committee in July, but they needed more time to meet the neighbors and fine-tune the project.  Let’s see what they did…

Yes, it got shorter – down to 316 feet. A nearby residential building asked that the building not blot out the sun.  Yes, the curved roof “fin” got un-curved, as did the green wall area. Overall, the building is pudgier (and maybe more financially realistic?).

Yes, the rooftop pool has been relocated to a new second-level amenity deck above the lobby (see below).

And most yes, the three-story, eye-popping, 17-foot-deep meeting place terraces were replaced by apartment balconies on each floor. While they will retain their green walls, I miss the grandeur of the terraces.

I missed them so much that I sent a note to the architect asking that they increase the depth of the balconies on every third floor to bring back some of the daring luxury of those spaces and the taller greenery they support.

But at ground level (where “we” will spend time), all is well. The green corner at Akard and McKinney remains. Albeit a slight change where the café shuffles to give prominence to the lobby. This level offers an arrow tip towards Klyde Warren Park where folks can sit down in the shade.  Also, remember, the tip is the lowest part of the lot with the (top) St. Paul Street side being a full story higher.

What are the asks?

The project is requesting 316 feet in height where it’s zoned for 240 feet. The argument that all-underground parking and burying power lines are big visual amenities for the neighborhood is real. The design of 2,000 square feet of open space (arrow tip) is similarly valuable.

They’re also taking up less overall ground-level space than required – 75 percent lot coverage instead of as-zoned 100 percent. In addition to greenspace, this gives increased setbacks and a wider sidewalk (10 feet versus 6 feet).

Parking-wise it gets interesting. Very interesting. Because of how the building will operate for its first 10 years (put a pin in that), they only need a half parking space per unit. BUT after 10 years, it will convert to condos and the parking increased to one space per unit. So they’ll build-out all the parking now, but it will be unused until condo conversion. How’s that work?

Look closely above. The parking levels B1, B2 and B3 are single height floors while the lower three levels are double height. This allows for car stacking on hydraulic risers (one car on top of another). So for the building’s 10-year rental period, parking will be either self or valet. Once condo-ed, it will be all valet (who will operate the riser/stackers for residents).

Believe it or not, this saves money. Three levels supply the parking needs of six in the space of five. So while it’s one less floor to excavate, it’s also fewer physical floors to construct. Definitely an interesting model.

Oh, and if one space per unit seems too few when the building goes condo, it’s expected that units will be combined for larger units, upping the number of spaces per unit – a one-bedroom connected to a studio nets two spaces.

Romancing the Loan

As previously noted, this building will be 270 apartments for its first decade. As also noted in these pages before, Texas requires builders to indemnify a building for 10 years against construction defects. This scares off a lot of financing – every high-rise has issues – which results in a lot of apartments being built. So keeping a building rental for a decade allows the kinks to be worked out without 270 residents complaining about every loose knob.

But this building isn’t going to be just apartments. Rastegar has signed a deal with Sonder, who will lease the entire building for 10 years. They, in turn, will offer the units for short-to-midterm stays. Think of Sonder sending off their DNA for testing only to find their parents were Airbnb and Marriott.

It’s a very innovative way to finance an inevitable condo project. Stay tuned for more detail on Sonder after we sit down for a one-on-one. Having personally dealt with midterm rental property for 20 years, it’ll definitely be an interesting conversation.

Retirement/Memory Care: Throckmorton and Herschel

Remember that first map?  See what I mean?  This is the map provided for a proposed 13-story retirement community on Throckmorton and Herschel Avenue. You read about it last month and they returned with answers and clarifications.

They’re asking for a Special Use Permit (SUP) for both a central dining room and a nursing home operation (there will be multiple levels of residency). They also want a more dense building increasing FAR from 4.5 square feet built for every square foot of property to 5.5 for each one. The result is a 167-foot building instead of an as-zoned 240-footer.

There were lots of questions on parking and ambulance regularity (as though they could produce an annual spreadsheet of who’s expected to snuff it in the coming year).

They reported that there were 20 neighbors in opposition and 14 in support, they didn’t outline the nature of the opposition. Given the expansive underlying zoning, was the opposition to the “asks” or to what could be built by-right?  If it’s an issue with the underlying zoning (e.g. allowed height), the opposition doesn’t hold water.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

4 Comment

  • I don’t think we should get too excited about what’s being offered up on the Rastegar project and already using it as a benchmark for developers. There’s a 0% chance that that thing gets built.

    • Oh really? Sour grapes or are you ready to put some facts into your snark? Based on this developer’s excellent building history and vision, I’d say this is the first of his many projects in Big D. Are we trying to build a wall around Dallas when it comes to development?

      • Because this “developer” has literally never built anything. Do some research before you get nasty with someone. The economics of this project would never work.

  • The parking plan for the Rastegar building is a joke! This isn’t New York where a parking space costs a quarter of a million dollars. Rastegar wants to build as little as possible so this kick the can down the road approach is great for them but that’s all. I can hear it already….when they attempt to convert the building to condos and find Dallas buyers won’t buy all valet and stackable residential parking, this kick the can development company will be back for a variance while threatening the building will otherwise be obsolete! No dice Chicago! It’s not an interesting approach Jon….it’s a developer treating everyone in the neighborhood like suckers!